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The key issue exporters and manufacturers of industrial and agricultural products face today is the possibility to sell their products on foreign markets whereas service suppliers seek smooth supply of services. Current imposition of numerous tariff and non-tariff restrictions on the way of export of Russian goods has become common knowledge. In many instances restrictive measures are hard to spot since they are not immediately identifiable. This is why exporters and manufacturers need legal help to identify measures impeding or hampering access to markets, and to verify their legality.

WTO Expertise Center provides consultation services related to analysis of the trading systems of the WTO member states. Based on the findings our experts prepare a legal opinion on the consistency of a measure or a trading regime in question with the relevant WTO agreements, and draw up a plan of practical steps aimed at elimination of the identified violations.  

The consultation services of the Center in this area include, inter alia, preparation of legal opinions and recommendations on the following issues:   

·         conformity of the existing import and export duties, taxes, other levies and methods of their imposition to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of the technical requirements to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of sanitary and phytosanitary measures to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of antidumping, countervailing and safeguard measures to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of tariff quotas to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of services access regime and service suppliers to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of national industrial support measures to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of licensing, customs valuation and preloading inspection procedures to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of intellectual property rights protection regimes (copyright, patents, trademarks, integrated circuits, clinical studies data, etc.) to the WTO rules;

·         conformity of the investment access regime to the WTO rules.

The WTO dispute settlement mechanism is a complicated but highly effective method of elimination of violations of the multilateral trade rules. Notwithstanding the absence of direct access of private parties to the Dispute Settlement Body, market participants have ample opportunities to protect their interests in WTO dispute settlement procedures by way of interacting with the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation which represents Russia’s national interests in the DSL.

The consultation services of the Center in this area include preparation of legal opinions on identification of the measures inconsistent with the WTO rules, preparation of a detailed position on the prospects of challenging such measures in the WTO dispute settlement process, and interaction with government bodies on the issues of challenging such measures in the WTO dispute settlement process. The experts of the Center provide legal support in connection with the disputes, including drafting of necessary documents and elaboration of legal language at all stages of the WTO dispute settlement procedures.   

The consultation services of the Center in this area include, inter alia, preparation of a:

·         legal opinion on the prospects of challenging a measure in the context of the WTO dispute settlement procedures;

·         draft request for consultations;

·         draft stance of the Russian Federation in the dispute;

·         draft request for establishment of an expert panel;

·         draft pleadings/statements at the panel stages;

·         draft response to the questions of an expert panel;

·         legal opinion on the prospects of appealing against panel reports;

·         draft documents at the appellation stage;

·         draft documents at the decision enforcement stage.

One of the WTO’s functions is to provide a forum for negotiations on multilateral trade relations between the organization members. Since 2001, trade negotiations under the WTO have taken place as part of the so-called Doha round aimed at achieving major reform of the international trading system through the introduction of lower trade barriers and revised trade rules, as well as improvement of the trading prospects of developing countries. The negotiations take place in specific negotiating groups. Currently a wide range of issues is being negotiated including agriculture, trade facilitation, international trade in services, and intellectual property.

Along with multilateral negotiations on trade liberalization, interested WTO members participate in accession negotiations. The relevant negotiations cover all aspects of WTO’s regulatory framework, excluding the dispute settlement mechanism. The results of the negotiations have a direct effect on the conditions of access of businesses to the markets of the WTO member states.

The consultation services of the Center in this area include, inter alia, preparation of:

 

·         information and analytical materials on the issues of multilateral trade negotiations in the context of the WTO;

·         elaboration of the negotiating stance of the Russian Federation as best suits the interests of its domestic manufacturers and exporters;

·         applications/requests to the government bodies of the Russian Federation in connection with the negotiating issues.

An important aspect of the work of the WTO Expertise Center involves monitoring and expert assessment of normative legal acts of the Russian Federation and other EEU members states in the area of trade, as well as acts of supranational bodies of the EEU for their conformity with the WTO agreements and obligations undertaken by the EEU member states in their WTO accession. The governments of the EEU member states are responsible for the fulfillment of their obligations both at the national and regional levels, as well as at the EEU level.

Our consultation services in this area include implementation of analytical research of the relevant normative legal acts and drafting of legal opinions. In addition to the research of the existing laws our experts use a proactive approach in analyzing draft normative legal acts to spot possible inconsistencies at the source (at the stage of their development and approval by the relevant executive and legislative bodies).

The consultation services of the Center in this area include preparation of legal opinions and recommendations concerning:

·         conformity of the existing and contemplated normative acts of the Russian Federation (at the federal, regional and municipal levels) with the WTO agreements;

·         conformity of the existing and contemplated acts of the EEU with the WTO agreements;

·         conformity of the existing and contemplated normative acts of the other EEU member states with the WTO agreements;

Today’s international trade is significantly influenced by the regional integration processes. Virtually every country in the world today is a member of a regional trade agreement. Such agreements share a lot of common features, yet each one creates its own regulation environment for its members, directly affecting businesses in relevant states.

The WTO Expertise Center implements monitoring and research of the peculiarities of operation of the regional integration associations, among them the EEU, EU, NAFTA, Mercosur, and bilateral free trade zones. Our experts also analyze correlations between the WTO agreements and the provisions of the relevant regional trade agreements. On the basis of the findings our experts prepare a legal opinion and recommendations.   

The consultation services of the Center in this area include preparation of a legal opinion and recommendations concerning:

·         conformity of the provisions of regional trade agreements to the WTO rules;

·         access of products and services to the markets of regional integration associations;

·         elaboration of a legal stance in negotiations on conclusion of regional trade agreements.

Interpretation of international agreements is a sophisticated and complex process aimed at determination of the true meaning of agreement provisions. Determination of the meaning of an agreement ensures its proper application. For businesses, in turn, the most significant immediate aspect of proper construction of agreement provisions lies in the chance of identification of violations of the relevant provisions by other WTO member states. There are other occasions as well where businesses may need a legal opinion on the issues of construction and application of WTO agreements.

Along with the general principles and norms of international law, the practices of WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, which amount to a huge body of information, are also instrumental in construing the provisions of a WTO agreement. Out experts possess valuable experience in this area enabling our Center to draft legal opinions on the issues of interpretation and application of WTO agreements with due regard to all peculiarities of the relevant agreements and the existing law enforcement practice.

The consultation services of the Center in this area include preparation of a legal opinion and recommendations concerning:

·         interpretation and explanation of the provisions of multilateral WTO agreements;

·         interpretation and explanation of the decisions of the Ministerial conferences, the General Council, WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and the working bodies;

·         application of the provisions of WTO’s multilateral agreements and decisions of WTO bodies.

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